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Xavier Magazine | September 23, 2017

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Father Finn’s Fiddle

Father Finn’s Fiddle
Greg Schaber

History remembers Francis J. Finn, S.J., as an author, University trustee and the man who coined the nickname “Musketeers.” Today, he’s also recognized for his namesake, the Father Finn Society, which recognizes those who arrange planned gifts to the University.

But Finn was also a violinist. And thanks to a gift from Richard and Alice Dooley, Finn’s violin has a permanent home at the University. “When Father Finn died in 1928, his family gave the instrument to his close friend, Dr. Joseph Topmoeller,” Richard Dooley says. “Dr. Topmoeller and his brother, Father Bernard Topmoeller, were German immigrants instrumental in starting the parochial school system in Cincinnati.” Dr. Topmoeller had four sons and two grandsons who attended the University, and the violin eventually passed to his third son, attorney Joseph Topmoeller, father of Alice Dooley. Alice used it for violin lessons when she was a child, and it has been carefully preserved since. The Dooleys arranged the gift in memory of the Topmoeller family’s long association with Xavier.

The Stradivarius copy bears the name “R. Wurlitzer” on its label, suggesting it was originally sold at the old Wurlitzer Music store in Cincinnati. “Father Finn’s impact is still being felt at Xavier,” says Mark McLaughlin, executive director for the office of gift and estate planning. “Having his violin allows us to tell a little bit more of his story.”

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